ALA calls on House subcommittee to use libraries, other anchor institutions to promote universal broadband

Contact: Jenni Terry

Press Officer

ALA Washington Office

(202) 628-8410

For Immediate Release

September 11, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Library Association (ALA) applauds Rep. Rick Boucher (VA-D-9), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, and other subcommittee members for voicing support for providing broadband funding to anchor institutions during the second in a series of oversight hearings on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) broadband programs held yesterday.

ALA especially notes comments by Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14) and Doris Matsui (D-CA-5) that emphasized the importance of libraries and other anchor institutions in advancing the goals of stimulating broadband adoption and using Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) funding strategically.

“Congressional representatives asked great questions, and the administrators of the BTOP and BIP programs reported how these ARRA initiatives have gotten off to a fast start, but we believe it is essential for Congress to understand that there is not enough BTOP and BIP funding to support build-out to all unreached communities and to all vulnerable populations,” said Lynne Bradley, director of the ALA Office of Government Relations.

“While it must be a national goal to deliver broadband to every home and community, the ‘best bang for the buck’ during this transition is to fund local public institutions who serve broad populations, such as libraries.”

The ALA asserts that, with broadband, libraries and other anchor institutions can deliver traditional services in the arenas of education, information, governance and health care services while simultaneously spurring public education and training to promote broadband adoption. Funding these anchor institutions will also generate new types of public services and applications that will further advance deployment and help connect every consumer.

“Anchor institutions, including libraries, K-12 and higher education and health care institutions are critical for the start-up and sustainability of broadband services. Our institutions can lead the national transition to broadband by benefiting the maximum number of Americans immediately through the institutions already in every community – from rural to urban,” Bradley said.

The ALA looks forward to working with the subcommittee, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Rural Utilities Service (RUS), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and others to advance “broadband for all” and to demonstrate how essential libraries are to universal access.